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Did toxic mold cause this nurse's occupational disease?

Workers in different industries in Missouri are sometimes exposed to workplace environments in which health hazards exist. In some cases, employees suspect that something in their workplace may be the cause of their deteriorating health, but then struggle to get supervisors or company owners to investigate. A nurse in another state who had been caring for elderly residents of a nursing home for two years is convinced that she has an occupational disease but found that her employers lacked concern.

The nurse said her eyes began watering soon after entering her workplace every day, and she developed symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and a chronic cough. An ear, nose and throat doctor said her symptoms indicated a reaction to exposure to toxic mold. The physician said the immediate reaction caused the watery eyes while the IBS and coughing indicated long-term reactions.

The worker said that, at first, she shared her concerns with maintenance crews, and later also with administrators. She took photographs of air vents that appeared to have black mold, but the company said tests indicated that it was not simply dirt and dust. When she suggested the company get professionals to clean the air vents and heating systems, her employers claimed that their own cleaning operations were in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. During further inquiries, the company could reportedly not produce documented evidence of a proper test for toxic mold.

Missouri workers have the right to report suspected unhealthy workplace environments to OSHA. While any worker who suffers an occupational disease is entitled to pursue benefits claims through the workers' compensation insurance system, proving that the illness is work-related may be difficult. However, an experienced workers' compensation attorney may be able to assist by investigating the allegations and gathering the necessary evidence. Based on that information, a lawyer may be able to prove that the illness is work-related, resulting in the approval of benefits for medical expenses and lost income.

Source: news9.com, "Nurse Claims Toxic Mold From Work Made Her Sick", Karl Torp, Jan. 12, 2016

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